French authorities have categorically stated they will not be turning back migrant boats found floating on their side of the Channel.
The revelation makes a mockery of this week’s announcement £54 million of British taxpayer cash is being transferred to the French in exchange for help with stemming the rapacious flood of illegal immigrants from across the Continent.
“If there are small boats of migrants trying to cross the sea and are not asking for help, we are not supposed to intervene. It is not forbidden for people to be at sea. We have no legal basis to intervene when they are in French waters at sea,” said French MP for Calais, Pierre-Henri Dumont.
One wonders what Tory MP Tim Loughton would have to say about Dumont’s unequivocal comments. The Brexiteer MP saw his profile shoot up yesterday after he skewered the Home Secretary over Britain’s porous borders.
“International maritime lawyers gave us evidence to say that the French authorities are entiteld and within international maritime law to intercept boats in the water and to return the passengers to French territory, or to allow Border Force to return the migrants to French territory,” said Loughton to Priti Patel at a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on Wednesday.
He went on to express his deep disapproval at the massive cash handout to the French, and that was before Mr Dumont’s startling intervention.
“This is ridiculous!” Loughton raged. “Just giving the French more money to carry on doing what they’re doing badly is not going to solve the problem. When are you going to get the French to admit they can intercept and get them to intercept?”
“They absolutely recognise that and they would argue they are doing their bit,” Patel replied, telling the committee that the French have a “different interpretation” on what action they can take towards migrants already at sea.
The MP for East Worthing and Shoreham went on to accuse the Home Secretary of being duped by the French. “You are getting fobbed off with excuses!” he said.
The evening before, Patel’s department proudly announced a new UK-France agreement to follow on from the existing £27 million deal, agreed with the French interior ministry to “take stronger action” in tackling boat crossings.
The £54 million will go towards doubling the number of French patrols in the Channel – but what good will it do if they can’t send migrant boats back. In addition, “more cutting-edge technology to target criminal people smugglers” will be deployed with both departments promising more “intensive collaboration to tackle the rise in crossings”, statements that will not reassure Brits tired of the country’s borders becoming ever more open.
The French are reported to have been taking on the smugglers for some time, chiefly by making inflatable dinghies less easily available, and yet the ruthless criminals are enjoying a bumper season this year.
On Monday, 430 illegals (that we know about) travelled to the UK aboard flimsy vessels. Less than 300 made the crossing throughout the whole of 2018.